24th May2019

‘Newbury & Hobbes Vol. 1: The Undying’ Graphic Novel Review

by Chris Cummings

Written by George Mann | Art by Dan Boultwood | Published by Titan Comics | Format: Softcover, 162pp

Newbury-Hobbes-v1-cover

Victorian London is stalked by supernatural threats, and the tandem of Sir Maurice Newbury and Miss Veronica Hobbes must do their damnedest to defend it. This is a steampunk tale of crime, mystery and mayhem written by George Mann with illustrative work by Dan Boultwood.

This collection of issues 1-4 of Newbury and Hobbes is very good indeed. The overall tone and visual style is wonderful, with the designs of London and the characters really spilling from the pages with a delectable dampness. I thought Boultwood detailed art fit like a glove with the writing, and created a story that should definitely appeal to fans of George Mann’s prior work, and fans of the likes of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who. The descriptive prose of the Victorian capital, of the weird and wacky creations, is bloody lovely.

The beauty of the writing is the knowledge of Mann himself of the characters and the world. His creations are brought back to life because he is well aware of the roads they’ve been down, and the roads they’ve yet to traverse. It wears its influences on its sleeve without concern, and fleshes out a bumping thudding plot that entertains thoroughly.

It has points where things slow down, parts where you know that it’s merely building up to the next portion of the story. This is obviously an occurrence in all books, though there were moments in the over-100 pages where I wanted things to gather speed little more. It often throws a bunch of information at you, as a reader, that feels more forced than what I’m used to as a comic fan. It was a little off-putting, a feeling of being educated about what the story is rather than calmly being told it, present at times. I can’t be down on that element too much though, because the world-building and character development is done with a creative head and real respect for the details.

I’m familiar with Mann’s novel work, and while I don’t tend to seek out Steampunk comic books generally, I had a blast with this one. If this is what I am to experience in the detective comics with a difference genre, then I’m willing to give more of a chance to that section of comic books. This, while not especially shocking or fresh, was enjoyable, very nice to look at, and written with intention. The team of Mann and Boultwood obviously work very well together.

Newbury & Hobbes Vol. 1: The Undying is out now from Titan Comics.

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